Job Opportunity: Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Wesleyan University

Postdoctoral Fellow

Center for the Humanities

Wesleyan University

Position description: Scholars who have received their Ph.D. degree after June 2008 in any field of inquiry in the humanities or humanistic social sciences – broadly conceived – are invited to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship, made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Wesleyan University. The purpose of this Fellowship is to provide scholars who have recently completed their Ph.D.’s with free time to further their own work in a cross-disciplinary setting, and to associate them with a distinguished faculty.

One Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow will be appointed to the Wesleyan University Center for the Humanities for the whole academic year, 2011-2012
, and each Fellow will be awarded a stipend of $40,000. He or she will teach a one-semester undergraduate course; participate in the collegial life of the Center for the Humanities, which sponsors conferences, lectures, and colloquia; and give one public lecture. The Fellow will be provided with an office at the Center for the Humanities, and will be expected to work there on weekdays while the university is in session, and to reside in Middletown. The themes for 2011-2012 will be “Fact and Artifact” and “Visceral States: Affect and Civil Life” (descriptions below). Scholars whose interests bear upon one of these themes are encouraged to apply for the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Next year’s themes are:

Fact and Artifact

To what extent has the modern fact been redefined as artifact, as an entity shaped by human hands? Scholars have at once recognized the production of facts about the empirical world as a central achievement of modernity and redefined facts not as paragons of objectivity but as markers of human intervention. Facts thus are alternately seen as a triumph of knowing or as products of social processes shaped by tools of witness, communities of inquiry, and methods of narration. Scholars of language, art, narrative, historical epistemology, philosophy, and archaeology have contributed to our understanding of how people fashion facts, which may in turn be accepted as veridical statements about reality or called into question as the conceptions of interested and historically situated human beings. They have explored, for instance, the practices and technologies used in apprehending the natural world: e.g. those used when collecting plants for herbaria and gene banks, or when tagging nutrients with radioisotopes. They have considered, too, the epistemological claims of aesthetic realism, the implication of historical facts in rhetorically constructed narratives, and the very possibility of establishing objects of knowledge in the humanities as facts in the sense in which that term has been used in the sciences. These investigations draw and redraw the lines between fact and artifact and fact and fiction – that is, not what we know to be true or false, but rather how we think we know it.

The Center invites applications examining the career of the modern fact and its uncomfortable companion, the artifact.

Under what conditions can facts be created? How do efforts to pin down empirical reality gain access to the material world? How do they depend upon symbolic or aesthetic logics of representation or produce such representations? What is at stake in the legal and moral order of facts? Does new knowledge change people’s aesthetic or moral sensibilities or alter their understandings of their first-hand experiences? What light can the study of artifacts shed on the status and function of facts in our world?

Application instructions: We regret that we cannot reply to individual inquiries concerning the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities. All information that applicants may need is available at this web-siteOnline applications should include: a) a letter from the applicant, including a statement of current research interests and a brief proposal for a one-semester undergraduate course related to the Center for the Humanities theme; b) a full curriculum vitae ; c) three letters of recommendation; d) copies of published work, extracts from the dissertation, or drafts of work in progress (not to exceed 25 pages).

There is no official application form. Preliminary interviews will be held by telephone. Finalists will be brought to the Wesleyan campus for longer interviews during February or March of 2011.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Applications should be completed online by January 1, 2011 by going to and following the link to the online application.

Applications faxed or emailed will not be accepted.

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